The Breed that Inspired the Masters

The Historical Andalusian

 The Iberian horse, popularly known in the United States as the Andalusian, evolved in rugged and hilly areas of the Iberian peninsula (comprised of Spain where they call the breed the Pure Spanish Horse, and Portugal, where the breed is known as the Pure Blood Lusitano). Fighting for survival and grazing over this rough terrain led to the development of a strong, arched neck; a short-coupled and  powerful body; hind legs positioned well under the body with strong hock action and natural impulsion; a natural ability for collection; and small, round hooves.

These attributes made the horse extremely agile, as well as forward moving.  Some researchers believe that these horses were being ridden perhaps as early as 4,000 to 3,000 BC.  When they Phoenicians arrived in Iberia in 2,000 BC and the Greeks in 1,000 BC, the Iberian cavalry was already a formidable foe, and the Iberian horse was regarded as a warhorse without equal.  Homer mentions the Iberian horses in the Iliad, written about 1,100 BC.  The famous Greek cavalry officer, Xenophon, highly praised the "gifted Iberian horses" and their role in helping Sparta defeat the Athenians around 450 BC.   In the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), Hannibal defeated the invading Romans several times through the use of the Iberian cavalry.  This military use of the Iberian horse continued unabated into the Middle Ages, with William the Conqueror ultimately riding an Andalusian horse is the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  While hailed over the ages as "the premier war horse", the Iberian horse was also well-known for its trusting and kind disposition.

When heavily armored knights began to constitute the majority of the armed forces of Europe, the Andalusian was briefly displaced as the most popular warhorse.  However, after the introduction of firearms, the Iberian horse once again became the mount of choice for royalty and cavalry officers.  New means of riding were introduced, often drawn from the writings of Xenophon.  The Iberian horse was the favorite choice of the new, rapid, agile mounted armies.

Soon thereafter, the Iberian horse became the "royal horse of Europe", present at every royal court.  Grand riding academies were formed in countries all across Europe, including Austria, France, Italy and Germany.  It was in these academies where dressage and high school riding evolved and flourished.  The Iberian horse was the favored mount of these academies because of its impulsion, forward motion, and catlike agility.  In 1667, the Duke of Newcastle wrote of the Andalusian," ... It is the noblest horse in the world, the most beautiful that can be.  He is of great spirit and of great courage and docile; hath the proudest trot and the best action in his trot, the loftiest gallop, and is the lovingest and gentlest horse, and the fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph."

The Andalusian is a most impressive sight with its sculptural beauty and proud bearing, which for centuries have made it a favorite subject of sculptors and painters.  The Andalusian is strongly built, yet extremely elegant.  The typical  Andalusian stands 15.2 to 16.2 hands.  Its head is of medium length, rectangular and lean, and in profile is slightly convex or straight with a broad forehead and well-placed ears.  The eyes are triangular in shape, large and kind, lively and alert.  The neck is reasonably long, broad and elegant, and is well-crested in stallions.  The mane is thick and abundant.  The tail is usually abundant, long, and set low, lying lightly against the body.  Approximately 80% of Andalusians are white or some shade of grey; 15% are bay, and less than 5% are black, dun, or palomino.  The enduring strength of these combined characteristics is attested to by the cave paintings, etchings, vases, Roman tiles, and early paintings which depict the Iberian horse almost exactly as described above.

The Andalusian possesses a proud but docile temperament; even stallions are handled by women and children.  The Andalusian is sensitive and particularly intelligent, responsive, and cooperative, and learns quickly and easily when treated with respect and care.

Today, the Andalusian continues to display the amazing versatility that has, in fact, been present for centuries.  The Andalusian's age-old attributes of strength, athleticism, impulsion, and kind temperament are still the fundamental characteristics of the breed.  In the United State, the Andalusian competes in dressage, jumping, driving - both pleasure and competitive - trail, Western pleasure, and English pleasure, In addition, it is a parade and exhibition horse without peer.  In Spain and Portugal, the Andalusian displays the ultimate in courage, agility, collection, and cunning as it faces the fierce Iberian bull, both in and out of the fighting arena.  Of course, it cannot be forgotten that the Andalusian, with its love of people, is an absolutely wonderful family horse.  Wherever it is found and whatever it does, the Andalusian displays the proud and docile temperament for which it has been prized for millennia.

The Andalusian horse is experiencing a rapid growth in popularity, with many new owners discovering the wonderful attributes of this breed.  Membership in the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association has increased dramatically, with the number of sanctioned horse shows more than doubling in the last five years.  Additionally, the Half-Andalusian Registry is growing steadily as the Andalusian is also growing steadily as the Andalusian is proving to be a popular and successful cross with the Quarter Horse, The Thoroughbred, Arabian, Morgan, Percheron, and many other breeds.

In 1994, the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association initiated an in-depth education program for owners, breeders, and judges aimed at preserving the historical conformation and temperament of the Andalusian horse.  The clinics focus on the unique conformational characteristics of the breed and their relationship to the athletic abilities of the horse.

At the horse shows sanctioned by the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association, halter judging is performed using a rigorous conformational, movement, and temperament standard aimed at preserving the Iberian horse ideal.  Attendance at a judge's clinic is mandatory before a person is qualified to judge halter classes at an IALHA sanctioned show.

The International Andalusian and Lustitano Horse Association brings together owners and breeders with interested public who wish to know more about the breed and where Andalusians can be seen and purchased.  Dedicated to education, promotion, and preservation of the Andalusian breed, IALHA is the largest Andalusian member organization in the world, with over 1,000 members.  In addition to sponsoring clinics and sanctioned shows, IALHA publishes a quarterly magazine and a quarterly newsletter, and an annual directory and handbook.  Stud books are also available.



Craig & Suzanne Furber
440 Grapevine Lane
Healdsburg, CA  95448
Phone: 707-433-7106
Fax:  707-433-1702